The dapper, trim-edged scarlet jackets worn in the mid-19th century by the rowing club of St John’s College, Cambridge, caused quite a stir. Onlookers described the jackets as “blazing red”, giving rise to the term blazer. The club blazer has gone through many design iterations since then. Some have remained true to the original boating blazers, with colourful and sporty elements, while others have explored dynamic variations. Both are high on the sartorial agenda this season.
Billionaire’s collegiate-inspired club blazers include three crested styles: one in black jacquard (£1,075); a blue single-breasted version (£1,650) made from woven cotton with white piping; and a sporty blazer (£1,075) in either navy or grey stretch-jersey cotton.
Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing has also added collegiate motifs to his cocktail-style club blazers, including one in candy stripes (£2,190) with metal hardware, which works well for eveningwear. In Rousteing’s show, the blazers were paired with nautical knits, jeans and loafers – a look I personally favour.
Gucci’s club blazers mine the brand’s eclectic ethos. A navy wool/cotton single-breasted version (£1,770) has bold ivory and green grosgrain detailing as well as an embroidered crest on the chest pocket. There’s also the black velvet Palma GG design (£2,130), which is a cross between a smoking jacket and a blazer, with black grosgrain trim and mother-of-pearl buttons. The bordeaux GG jersey blazer (£1,640) is similar in style, but with a more casual, preppy edge.
Further examples come from New & Lingwood, including the Newton boating-stripe single-breasted jacket (£695), with grosgrain-taped lapels and generous patch pockets, reminiscent of the styles worn by mod figurehead Paul Weller. The Jermyn Street outfitter also has a sports jacket/club blazer hybrid (£545) made from Heather Isle tartan. Tod’s plays on the regatta theme with a satin-trim navy cotton blazer (£1,070), as does Agnès B’s red and white striped Verte New Greenford style (£325). As part of its collaboration with Henley Royal Regatta, Hackett has created a navy cotton/wool basketweave blazer (£475) with cream piping and metal buttons, as well as a navy wool blazer (£625) with grey and red chalk stripes. All these smart-leisure jackets look equally good on water or dry land.
Blazers are not only linked to rowing, but also to naval uniforms. Saint Laurent’s evening-appropriate designs, for example, use gold braid similar to that found on officers’ uniforms to create decorative stripes in a neatly cut black wool jacket (£2,565) with acute, rock ’n’ roll-inspired peak lapels that call to mind Ronnie Wood and Rod Stewart in the Faces era. Another evening jacket (£2,480) has Western-style flap pockets decorated with gold braid, while a sumptuous black velvet number (£2,335) has gold braiding on the collar and pockets. Ralph Lauren Purple Label also has a naval-esque blazer: an eight-button double-breasted “Admiral” jacket (£2,100) in black cotton, featuring sleeve bands in gold thread. The house also offers a simple black linen/silk tuxedo jacket (£1,500) with a crest on the breast pocket.
Pal Zileri is another brand exploring different fabrications for its club blazers. Its burgundy crested Garçon jacket (£1,970) is in cashmere/silk, while an elegant sports jacket hybrid (£1,325) comes in a wool/silk check, giving a preppy, vintage flavour. Issey Miyake’s take (£1,655) uses cotton/linen sakiori – a traditional homespun textile woven from shredded cloth in the Iwate Prefecture of Japan. While stripes and a trim reference regatta motifs, the rounded, oversized cut makes it an urbane tailored piece.
Tom Ford’s chocolate suede blazer (£5,590) with leather trim is a stunning example of just how cool a club blazer can be and demonstrates how far this genre of jacket has come since the days on the River Cam.